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Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Bromances

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes.

This week, it’s all about the dudes! And their friendships!

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5. Roland and Eddie – The Dark Tower series by Stephen King

I know this one’s a little out there… but let’s be honest, this whole series is a little out there =P Roland and Eddie meet in the second book, when Roland essentially enters Eddie’s mind and helps him successfully (depending on your point of view) complete a heroin smuggling. Eddie gets sucked into Roland’s world, and though they definitely don’t start out as friends, they do come to a sort of understanding. Really, it just makes me laugh whenever Eddie throws out some word or phrase common in the ’80s and Roland becomes confused XD

(Plz no spoilers in the comments, as I’m maybe halfway through the third book =3 )

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4. Cadvan and Saliman – The Pellinor series by Alison Croggon

The main character of this series, Maerad, finds out she is a Bard when she stumbles across Cadvan in the keep where she lives as a slave. Cadvan becomes her mentor and companion throughout the series, and is just as interesting and complex as a character as Maerad. Cadvan’s good friend Saliman plays a large role in the series as well, and we get to know him better in the third book. Both Cadvan and Saliman speak highly of the other, and reminisce on their younger days when they learned the ways of Barding. Though they are apart for much of the series, you can tell they have a strong bond.

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3. Harry and Ron – Harry Potter

Ever since Ron asked Harry if he could sit on the train with him on their first ride to Hogwarts, these two boys have been best friends. Sure, they have their ups and downs, and periods they don’t speak to each other. But they have a special bond. Ron was Harry’s very first friend, and they’ve stayed together through thick and thin. You can’t really go on a quest to defeat the Dark Lord without becoming BFFs anyway.

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2. … Everyone – The Lord of the Rings

There really isn’t one bromance I’d pick over another when it comes to LoTR. It’s the whole thing. There’s Frodo and Sam, of course, whose rock-solid friendship is at the core of the series. Merry and Pippin are a lively duo, and are just as steadfast to the rest of the Fellowship as they are to each other. Legolas and Gimli each overcome the prejudices they have for the other’s races to become the best of friends. And there are many more besides. In a trilogy full of bromances, it’s very hard to pick just one! =P

(Also see my last sentence for Harry and Ron, ‘cuz it’s equally true here)

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1. Hawke/Inquisitor and Varric – Dragon Age II/Inquisition

Listen… Varric is the bestest best friend in a video game to ever exist. He’s definitely my favorite character in the entire series. Varric is a storyteller and a merchant prince of the Dwarves. He first appears in Dragon Age II, when he offers Hawke a place on his excavation of an abandoned dwarf settlement in the Deep Roads. Hawke and Varric are betrayed and left for dead underground by Varric’s brother, Bartrand, and Varric swears revenge. Hawke and Varric develop a fast friendship; underneath Varric’s storyteller’s swagger and wily ways, he has a heart of gold, and in some ways acts as Hawke’s conscience. It’s easy to fall in love with him as a character, and I was overjoyed to have him as a companion again in Dragon Age: Inquisition. My Inquisitor is probably no match for Hawke… but I hope she’s earned his friendship all the same.

Any of these bromances your favorites, too? =P

– Kathleen

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Top 5 Wednesday: Book Covers You’d Live In

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes.

As some of you may know, I’m also an artist! I looooove me a well-done book cover. Here are some I love so much I’d just crawl in and stay there!

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5. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born by Stephen King

The backstory to the titular Gunslinger in Stephen King’s weird Western series. I’m not sure that I’d necessarily want to live in the world of the Gunslinger, but the art in this GN is so beautiful and dark and hypnotic, I’d want to go at least for a visit. A short one =P (Review of this one upcoming!)

 

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4. The Wrath and the Dawn by Reneé Ahdieh

A retelling of the “Thousand and One Nights” with a female heroine. The peek-a-boo nature of this cover is brilliant, and reflects the shadowed intentions of some of the characters. What I wouldn’t give to wander an Arabian palace with screens and decorations like this pattern!

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3. Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

A YA Western adventure novel featuring heroines and heroes of color. I fell in love with the colors and silhouettes of this cover. It makes me want to roam free and be wild! But then settle down and watch the brilliant sunset ;D

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2. The Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz

A favorite guilty pleasure series of mine when I was a teenager, featuring vampires of New York’s richest set. I’ve always loved these covers, and each one depicts a different city featured in the novels as the main characters go on their adventures. The silhouetted skylines make me dream of wandering these cities on my own someday.

 

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1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay

The original covers will always have a place in my heart, but I think this cover perfectly captures the spirit and wonder of Harry’s world. Besides, if I were in this cover, I’d be on my way to Hogwarts! =P

Who wants to climb in here with me?

– Kathleen

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition

I’m a little late for the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter, but I hope it’s okay anyway =)

Harry has always been a little strange. He makes things happen without meaning to, like that time he talked to a snake at the zoo and made the glass vanish when his cousin Dudley pushed him out of the way to see it better. Harry got in big trouble for that one. His Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia don’t like anything or anyone out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, Harry is VERY out of the ordinary. This is only emphasized by the fact that Harry has been getting letters – lots of them – saying he’s been accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Exactly what Hogwarts is, and what it means for Harry, is summed up by four words spoken by a giant in a shack on the sea: “Harry – yer a wizard.”

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The illustrated edition is absolutely beautiful. It’s huge, too! The better to fit all the gorgeous illustrations in 😉 Jim Kay’s work is perfect for the world of Harry Potter. They appear to be watercolor, and they’re whimsical, incredibly detailed, and have a strong sense of lighting. Some pages have full two-page spreads, and some pages have only a little scene. Some pages are just full text, but the whole book is printed against a background that looks like watercolor or parchment paper, with some paint splashes or tiny little illustrations of keys or frogs or owls. It’s probably going to serve a double purpose in lots of young families as both a collector’s item and a bedtime story staple. Children would love the illustrations just as much as adults would. The best part is, it’s unabridged, so you get the full story along with all the all the illustrations. In truth, it’s making me a little worried about the sizes Goblet of Fire on will be, which were really big to begin with!

Not that I’m complaining I’m gonna buy them all no matter what

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Just as Hagrid’s words changed Harry’s life, the words J.K. Rowling wrote about him and his adventures changed mine. I had been a big reader before Harry Potter, so I can’t rightly say it got me to read. However, it did get me to read more fantasy. I first read Lord of the Rings and most of Tamora Pierce’s work in middle school thanks to Harry Potter – and I haven’t stopped since!

Harry also got me to write – my very first piece of fanfiction was Harry Potter. I love to write, and even if I don’t have a lot of time anymore (and am probably very rusty), I still catch myself composing stories and stringing words together in my head from time to time. As well as each and every first edition hardcover HP book, my mother got me Eragon for Christmas as well one year. She told me that she got it for me because Christopher Paolini was also a young author. At the time Eragon was published, he was 19, and I around 13 or 14 and very serious about becoming an author. Both series were major inspirations to me when I was younger.

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The reason that Harry Potter both as a series and as a character mean so much to me is… well, I was different too when I was a kid. I was constantly walking around with my nose in a book or my head in the clouds. I’ve always kind of lived in a world of my own making, and I refused to conform to what my peers deemed normal. Unfortunately, I was bullied for it, and it’s left scars on me to this day.

Harry made me believe that being different, and standing out, might not be so bad. We all like to believe that we have some special power inside us. We might not literally be the Chosen One, like Harry or Frodo or Eragon, but we DO all have a special power. We all have the ability to change the world and the lives of the people around us. We’re all more powerful than we believe.

The real magic of Harry Potter, and arguably of the fantasy genre as a whole, is that it makes us believe in ourselves as much as it makes us believe in the world we’re immersing ourselves in.

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Thank you, J.K. Rowling. Thank you for sharing your world with all of us. Thank you for being an inspiration to so many. Thank you for bringing a little boy out from the cupboard under the stairs so we wouldn’t have to feel like we were alone in being different.

Kathleen

Rowling, J.K., and Jim Kay. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition. 2015.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Books That Would Make Good Video Games

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes.

I’m going back in time in the T5W bank, because today’s was sci-fi/fantasy related again and I just did one of those! Let’s mix it up a bit =P I’m slowly getting back into games after trying Horizon Zero Dawn~

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5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Thought of you, Nancy! =P Eleanor & Park is an incredibly cute but incredibly heartbreaking story about two misfit teenagers falling in love. It’s set in the ’80s, but I often forgot that while reading it because the story and themes are so timeless. I think it would make a great 8 bit platformer game. You could alternate playing as Eleanor and Park every other level, and find different comics and tapes referenced in the book to give to the other person. There could be a heart meter that goes up or down depending on how many or what you find and give. And maybe the game would reveal the three mysterious words on the postcard – and change every time depending on how you play and how full you get the meter!

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4. Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor

The first book is amazing and even if the sequels aren’t on the same level, y’all should read it. This trilogy is about a girl with blue hair named Karou, an artist who’s raised by monsters. One of her guardians deals in animal teeth, and you find out later he builds other creatures from the teeth he collects and strings together like necklaces. Wouldn’t that be an awesome sidequest in a game??? Finding teeth and stringing them together to build creatures for an army, each animal with different stat attributes? Deal me in!

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3. Wonder Woman by George Perez

Okay, I admit I’ll take any incarnation of WW as a game, but the story and art of this run are iconic and stellar! I think it would lend itself well to a video game. There are also plenty of plot threads – main and side – that would translate well to a game. As it was written in the ’80s, I imagine it as another 8 bit sidescroller… complete with all the melodramatic cheesy dialogue goodness!

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2. Birds of Prey by Gail Simone

There are a lot of angles from which a Birds game could be played. You could play strictly as Oracle, where you choose the heroes you send into the field, and see them from a birds-eye view (pun not intended!), and manipulate them as if you were playing a tactical board game. In addition to moving your heroines around, there could also be puzzles to solve and codes to crack in order for the mission to succeed. You could also play as one of the heroes and go into the field, with Oracle as your AI guide, for a more action-oriented game. I feel no matter which incarnation you get, there should be a role-playing element, to highlight the bond between the Birds so evident in the comics!

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1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Okay I know we’ve had ports of movie tie-ins to just about every console and handheld from the PS1 and GameBoy on… we had Pottermore back when it was actually a game (and I’m still incredibly salty it’s not anymore)… but wHERE IS MY HARRY POTTER SIMULATOR??? WHEN CAN I MAKE MY OWN CHARACTER AND PLAY AS HER THROUGH HOGWARTS??? WHEN?!!?!? IT’S 2017 AND WE DON’T HAVE THIS YET AND IT’S A TRAVESTY TO HUMANKIND TBH

Honorable mention was a Batgirl game… one half-baked Arkham Knight DLC is never going to be enough… #saltyaboutit

What book to game incarnations would you want to see? =D

– Kathleen

Fantastic Beasts movie review

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Fantastic Beasts was a solid prequel to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Set in 1926, magizoologist Newt Scamander, a former student from Hogwarts,  is traveling through New York City on his way to Arizona to release his Thunderbird back to it’s home environment. His magical suitcase holds many of his fantastic beasts, but a creature escapes and his chase through a bank connects him with a no-maj (American term for Muggles) baker Jacob Kowalski, and arouses the suspicions of Tina Goldstein who is a fellow wizard who works for The Magical Congress of the United States of America.

Through an unintentional mix up of suitcases with Jacob, many of the creatures escape into the city, with Newt and Tina paring up to collect them. Jacob is drawn into the hunt, along with Tina’s flirty sister Queenie who is a Legilimen and can read minds. The scenes with the magical beasts were delightful. I loved anything to do with Niffler and seeing the habitats that Newt created for his menagerie of animals. The interactions between the four heroes were authentic and fresh, and the relationships between them all leave room for growth. I also liked that Newt was a Hufflepuff as proved by his scarf, for I am one according to Pottermore, and this house needed a wizard that is more than just kind and steady but forgettable! (You must watch this video by Eddie Redmayne about how awesome the Hufflepuffs truly are!)

We also meet human Mary Lou Barebone, who is on a witch hunt, along with several of her adopted children. One of the MACUSA officials, Percival Graves, feels that Credence Barebone can lead him to a powerful Obscurus which is a dark and dangerous power that is formed when a child tries to obscure their powers. Graves creepily encourages Credence in rather inappropriate ways to betray his family. At first rebuffed by the MACUSA, Graves later takes notice and mistakenly accuses Newt and Tina of killing a senator, so they are sentenced to death. They escape with the help of Jacob and Queenie, and the Obscurus is exposed and rains destruction down on the city. How they fight this danger and what is revealed at the end of the movie, sets up the story for further sequels. 

I was not happy at all with the end reveal about Grindelwald. The actor who will go forth in these movies is known for his over the top campy roles, and I am worried his look will take away from the seriousness of the role. Plus, isn’t he too old to be Gellert in 1926? I had really enjoyed the creepy vibe that Graves and Creedence were giving off, so I hope this disclosement doesn’t mean that the actors Colin Ferrell and Ezra Miller will no longer be in the sequels.

While this movie prequel series was originally set to be three movies, it has been adjusted to five, for Rowling says she has a lot of story to cover in the years between 1926-1945. That might be so, but I think five movies is over kill and a grab for money by the studios. I’m certainly willing to see the next movie, for while there were some drawbacks for me, this movie was a fun trip back to the Potter universe!

-Nancy

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